A debut guide presents a secularized 12-step program filled with advice gained from personal experience.
When Bill W. (not the Bill W. who co-founded Alcoholics Anonymous) was finally ready to face his alcohol addiction, he followed the Twelve Steps until he fully recovered. But he constantly needed to adapt the AA program to fit his agnostic views. To help others like himself, he has since created a secularized version of the program by rewording the “God steps” to work for addicts regardless of their faith. This essentially replaces dependence on God with the responsibility to “show up and take an active part” in your recovery. Religious readers may wince at this effort to remove God, but the author puts forth a convincing argument, asserting that the traditional program deters many nonbelieving addicts from pursuing a highly effective plan. (He also expresses his respect for religion, something that should ease tensions with the faithful.) Later in the book, W. delves into the biological processes of addiction and the universal characteristics of users, applying knowledge he has acquired as both a biologist and former alcoholic. In this section in particular, the author makes complex concepts incredibly clear by using tangible examples and metaphors. For example, he compares addiction to a furnace with a broken thermostat that will continue to heat up until there are disastrous consequences. The second half of the manual is focused solely on W.’s plan, with steps broken down into “The First 90 Days Sober” (Steps 1 to 3), “Reconstruction” (Steps 4 to 9), and “Long-Term Sobriety” (Steps 10 to 12). Having traversed the 12-step program himself, the author often uses the pronoun “we” with a tone free of judgment. His sharing of powerful firsthand experiences further personalizes and legitimizes his writing. One of the book’s weaknesses is that the target audience is unclear and shifts depending on the section. Only the second half seems directed at addicts themselves. The fact-heavy first half seems more for those researching addiction or recovery programs. Still, the guide contains a wealth of information and inspiration from beginning to end.
An excellent resource for understanding and overcoming addiction written with both authority and humility.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)